Share

Shamed ex-health secretary Matt Hancock and a former chairman of the Conservative Party have been named among several Tories who helped almost 50 firms win PPE contracts worth millions at the height of the pandemic.

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a ‘VIP fast lane’.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses amassed by Politico also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove

The companies were able afterwards to access lucrative contracts for PPE equipment using a much-criticised system set up to speed through supply of vital material as the NHS struggled to cope. 

There is no suggestion that the politicians played a role in awarding contracts to businesses they referred onwards to the procurement process. 

Lord Feldman today denied any wrong-doing, insisting he was just passing ‘credible offers on to officials’ from Maxima Markets, SG Recruitment and Skinnydip. They were later awarded contracts worth £65million between them.

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project said: ‘The VIP lane funnelled vast sums of public money into the pockets of those with Tory links. 

‘It also made it harder to buy the PPE the NHS needed. Civil servants were besieged by crappy suppliers with political connections – and that made it much harder to buy the right stuff.’

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a 'VIP fast lane'.

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a 'VIP fast lane'.

Lord Feldman, a former tennis partner of David Cameron, referred three businesses to ministers before they were given untendered contracts using a ‘VIP fast lane’.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove.

Mr Hancock, who quit in the summer after having a lockdown-breaching affair with an aide, referred four, while the list of 47 businesses also showed referrals by ex-No10 aide Dominic Cummings, as well as senior ministers including Michael Gove.

‘I was an unpaid volunteer with the DHSC during the early days of the pandemic which involved considering offers sent in from potential sources of PPE or other medical supplies, and passing credible offers on to officials,’ Feldman told Politico.

‘I had no previous knowledge of SG Recruitment, Skinnydip and Maxima and I have never had any commercial relationship with them or their owners.

‘I passed the offers on to officials who considered them in accordance with the DHSC procurement rules.’  

SG Recruitment has since become Sumner Group Health Ltd. Its parent company, Sumner Group Holdings, has been linked to a gold mining operation in Peru run by a family whose senior members have been accused of laundering cash from cocaine trafficking

Sumner Group is chaired by Tory peer Lord Chadlington.

Analysis for Labour last December highlights £50million paid in two deals to Sumner Group Health, linking the subsidiary to to the tax havens of the British Virgin Islands and Dubai.

Mr Hancock referred four companies, Excalibur Healthcare, JD.Com, Monarch Acoustics Ltd and Nine United Ltd. It’s understood that he believes that he followed due process in doing so. 

The Government has faced repeated claims of cronyism over its £18billion rush to source PPE and other equipment during the Covid crisis, with ministers criticised for handing lucrative contracts to personal contacts with no experience in the sector.

The former health secretary has previously been censured after he unlawfully failed to publish details of billions of pounds’ worth of coronavirus related contracts.

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project said: 'The VIP lane funnelled vast sums of public money into the pockets of those with Tory links'

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project said: 'The VIP lane funnelled vast sums of public money into the pockets of those with Tory links'

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project said: ‘The VIP lane funnelled vast sums of public money into the pockets of those with Tory links’

The High Court made a ruling in February after the Good Law Project took legal action against the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for its ‘wholesale failure’ to disclose details of contracts agreed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former landlord of Mr Hancock’s local pub also supplied tens of millions of Covid tests to the NHS after sending him a personal WhatsApp message – despite his company having no previous experience of making medical supplies.

Alex Bourne got to know the Health Secretary while running the Cock Inn in Thurlow, West Suffolk, a few hundred yards from the Conservative MP’s constituency home. The pair are also Facebook friends.

He later set up Hinpack, a packaging manufacturer, which is now supplying a distributor contracted by the NHS with two million test tubes a week, as well as around 500,000 plastic funnels for test samples. How much the company is being paid is not yet known.

Mr Cummings denied being involved with  Global United Trading, which secured deals almost £800,000. 

He told Politico:  ‘This is an admin error. I’ve not been involved with this company. I would like DHSC and No. 10/Cabinet Office to release any and all documents they hold on the matter concerning me if any exist.’

The key players who referred firms for VIP Covid contracts 

Former Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman: 

Lord Feldman was advising Matt Hancock at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March - a testing firm handed a contract following a meeting attended by the two men is now being advised by Lord Feldman's PR firm where he is managing partner

Lord Feldman was advising Matt Hancock at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March - a testing firm handed a contract following a meeting attended by the two men is now being advised by Lord Feldman's PR firm where he is managing partner

Lord Felman was responsible for three companies being referred to the VIP PPE contracts scheme 

Lord Felman was responsible for three companies being referred to the VIP PPE contracts scheme. 

Maxima Markets was given a contract worth millions to produce facemasks. There is very little information about the firm. Its website claims it provides advices and connects people to ’emerging markets’.

Its two directors, Richard Adley and Majid Sadjadi, also own a company that provides investment banking services to multinationals and companies. 

Lord Felman also referred SG Recruitment to provide hand sanitizer. SG Recruitment has since become Sumner Group Health Ltd. 

Its parent company, Sumner Group Holdings, has been linked to a gold mining operation in Peru run by a family whose senior members have been accused of laundering cash from cocaine trafficking

Sumner Group is chaired by Tory peer Lord Chadlington.

Thanks to taxpayers, the firm’s first PPE contract, for £23.8million, was awarded on April 28 – at least 18 months after Chadlington had joined Sumner Group Holdings as chairman. The second, for £26.1 million, followed a month later.

The firm says its profit is modest, but it is impossible to tell from publicly available information. It ended the last financial year before the pandemic £376,000 in debt.

After it won a £12.9 million contract to provide hand sanitizer, one of the other firms put forward by Feldman, fashion firm Skinnydip, saw its finances jump from a loss of £955,000 in 2019 to a profit of £4.1 million in 2020. 

Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock 

Matt Hancock was responsible for four companies being referred to the VIP contracts scheme

Matt Hancock was responsible for four companies being referred to the VIP contracts scheme

Matt Hancock was responsible for four companies being referred to the VIP contracts scheme

Matt Hancock was responsible for four companies being referred to the VIP contracts scheme. 

One of them was Excalibur Healthcare Services, a medical company run by a Labour donor that was asked to provide ventilators. 

The firm charged £135 million, or £50,000 each, to supply 2,700 ventilators. Three weeks earlier another company had provided the same model of VG70 ventilator for £8,800, according to the Times.   

The company has extensive experience in the field of healthcare products and also developed a gold standard Covid rapid test earlier this year. 

It is owned via a secretive offshore structure based in the Isle of Man and claimed its charged for ventilators were because of supply at the time. 

Monarch Acoustics Limited, a Nottingham-based manufacturer of office furniture, was awarded a £28.8m contract to supply surgical sterile gowns after being referred by the then-Health Secretary.   

On its website, the firm says it has been active for more than 30 years and it has a  96,000 square foot purpose-built factory in Nottingham.

He also referred JD.com, a massive Chinese e-commerce company headquartered in Beijing. It is one of the biggest firms in China and is a member of the Fortune Global 500.

It is unclear how the Chinese conglomerate aided the UK’s pandemic battle, though it is best known for selling electronics, mobile phones, computers, and similar items.

He also referred Nine United Ltd, a family of companies across several sectors that is owned by Troels Holch Povlsen, a Danish businessman and founder of the fashion chain Bestseller.

His son Anders Holch Povlsen is CEO and sole owner of Bestseller, which includes Vero Moda and Jack&Jones.

He is also the largest shareholder in ASOS, and second-largest in German internet clothing retailer Zalando. He is also the largest individual private landowner in the UK.

Former Cabinet Office Minister and current Secretary of State for Housing, Michael Gove

Michael Gove referred Meller Designs, a firm run by Conservative donor David Meller, to the VIP lane

Michael Gove referred Meller Designs, a firm run by Conservative donor David Meller, to the VIP lane

Michael Gove referred Meller Designs, a firm run by Conservative donor David Meller, to the VIP lane 

Michael Gove referred Meller Designs, a firm run by Conservative donor David Meller, to the VIP lane.

The government awarded two contracts to Meller Designs Limited in June 2020 for the supply of hand sanitiser and face masks. 

The initial contract was worth £2.6 million, while the second was valued at £79.2 million. 

They were in addition to a £65.8 million deal for face masks given to the firm in July 2020. Another contract saw the company get £1.1 million contract for the supply of hand sanitiser. 

The huge contracts saw the firm declare record profits this year.  

The co-owner of the firm, David Meller, has donated nearly £60,000 to the Conservatives since 2009.

He also donated £3,250 to Michael Gove’s unsuccessful leadership campaign in 2016.

Gove also referred a Chinese company to the VIP scheme that supplied the government with goggles which expired before they could be used. 

The goggles were supplied by Liaoning Zhongqiao Overseas Exchange Co Ltd. 

Minister of State at the Cabinet Office Lord Agnew: 

Lord Agnew, a minister at the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, referred Euthenia Investments

Lord Agnew, a minister at the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, referred Euthenia Investments

Lord Agnew, a minister at the Cabinet Office and the Treasury, referred Euthenia Investments

Another firm that landed a lucrative contract was Euthenia Investments, run by 23-year-old Sabia Mokeddem, who had set up her company seven months earlier.

Despite having no experience in supplying medical equipment, the investor from Lyon, France, was given £880,000 to supply 55,000 coveralls, after being referred by Lord Agnew. 

The self-confessed party girl was paid almost half a million pounds upfront, although she said her cut of the deal was just ‘pocket money’.

She told the Mail she acted as a go-between for a wholesaler in Hong Kong and has since completed delivery of all the coveralls, priced at £16 each. Miss Mokkedem said the coveralls cost £11 before the pandemic – but they charged £16 as market demand and rising cargo costs pushed up prices.

Defending the Government’s procurement drive, she said the checks had been stringent and she was asked to provide a range of documents including test reports for the product and details on the factories used.

But the financial trader, who lives in central London, appeared to ridicule the Government’s strategy to fight the pandemic.

In a brazen confession, she revealed she attended raves with over 200 people during the first national lockdown. 

Another firm that landed a lucrative contract was Euthenia Investments, run by 23-year-old Sabia Mokeddem, who had set up her company seven months earlier

Another firm that landed a lucrative contract was Euthenia Investments, run by 23-year-old Sabia Mokeddem, who had set up her company seven months earlier

Another firm that landed a lucrative contract was Euthenia Investments, run by 23-year-old Sabia Mokeddem, who had set up her company seven months earlier 

Source: Daily Mail UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *